Here are the materials you’ll need:
- Crewneck t-shirt
- One yard of a stretchy knit fabric (Modern Jersey, Cotton Spandex Jersey, or Organic Cotton Knit are great choices – choose a fabric similar in weight to your t-shirt). We’re using Crazy about Hats by Mariskadesign in Modern Jersey.
- A raglan t-shirt pattern (We’re using the pattern from It’s Always Autumn–It’s free and comes with different sleeve lengths!)
- Sewing machine w/ a zigzag stitch or a serger
Prep your t-shirt
Start by cutting out the neckline out of your T-shirt and set it aside – you’ll need this again later.
Next, remove the sleeves along the seams (you can get rid of these) and cut down the shoulder seams and side seams. You should now have two separate front and back rectangular pieces.
Fold your front piece in half (if your T-shirt has a design on it, have the design facing out) Lay the T-shirt body piece of your pattern down on top, and cut around it. Repeat this process with the back piece of the -tshirt.
Prep your fabric
Fold your fabric in half and lay your sleeve pattern on top on it – make sure the direction of greatest stretch will end up wrapping around your arm (make sure that the length of the sleeve is perpendicular to the direction of greatest stretch in your fabric).
Cut out your sleeves.
- Optional: If you’re using a heavier weight T-shirt and a thicker sleeve fabric like Organic Cotton Knit, you may want to make sleeve cuffs so that your raglan turns out more like a sweatshirt. From your yard of fabric, cut two rectangles from using the direction of greatest stretch for your width – the width should be the width of your sleeve, and the length I prefer to use is about 7 inches (you’ll end up folding these pieces in half to make your cuffs, so you’ll want to double whatever length you want your cuffs to be to make these rectangles.)
If your raglan pattern does not have a neckband pattern piece, use the old t-shirt neckband as a guide for cutting out your new one: cut it open, and lay it across your fabric in the direction of greatest stretch. Cut out a strip of fabric that is the length of the old neckband and is twice the width.
Using a serger or zigzag/stretch stitch, sew both your sleeve pieces onto your t-shirt front at the shoulder seams with right sides facing. Sew your T-shirt back to one of the sleeve pieces at the shoulder seams with right sides facing.
Take your neckband piece and fold it in half width-wise. Pin it along the neckline of your shirt, stretching a little as needed. Sew in place, then topstitch if desired.
- I prefer to sew neckbands flat. If you’d rather, first sew the t-shirt back to the second sleeve, then sew the ends of the neckband together with right sides facing. Stretch and pin along the neckline with the seam in line with one of the back shoulder seams, and sew in place. Top stitch if desired.
Once the neckband is attached, sew the final sleeve piece to the back of the shirt, being careful to line up the top edges of the neckband.
Fold your sleeves in half and your shirt sides together and pin in place, right sides facing, and sew. Take care to line up the bottom hem of the T-shirt pieces as well.
Working from the inside of your shirt, turn the ends of your sleeves in about ¼ inch, then fold in again and pin at the desired length (my hem typically ends up being about 1.5 inches). Topstitch to finish your sleeve hems.
- If you made sleeve cuffs, sew the ends together with a ¼ in seam. Fold in half widthwise and pin the edges to the outside of your sleeve, right sides together, stretching a bit. Sew in place.
And that’s all there is to it–put on your new raglan and enjoy!
Love this idea!
I was planning on re-purposing a t-shirt, but hadn’t thought of this – awesome 🙂
Very awesome guys!!! I can’t wait to try this out:)
Many thanks for this very interesting upcycling !
The Tshirt pattern commes in Large size and it looks like you do not wear L… how did you manage the size difference please ?
Gina trimmed about an inch off of each side of the t-shirt body and about 1/2 inch off each side of the sleeve.
Fold-over elastic in a complementary color is another good option for finishing the neckline.
If you don’t want an obvious zig-zag stitch showing, it is possible to reduce the width of the zig-zag right down to .5 and it looks like a straight stitch but does have some stretch of a zig-zag. As always practice on a scrap first.
You could always use a triangle notch in the front. Like neckline sweatshirts use. It would take the gap away and technically you could use another piece of fabric and make it even more unique.
This is such a wonderful idea! I love the “Randy” raglan shirts from LulaRoe, but they just don’t fit me in a flattering way. This seems like it might look much better. Thanks for the idea.
When you have absolutely no sewing skills but you will learn just to make this. LOVE it. So cute.
You got this, Jasmine! We believe in you!
Just made a raglan-sleeve dress for a toddler from new cotton fabric; now I know how I’ll upcycle to make the next one ~ Thanks!
The more textile waste we can save from the landfill the better! So glad this project inspired you, thank you for commenting!
What a great idea 💡 I particularly like the hint about doing the neckband flat-great call!
Thanks Melinda! We agree, sewing it flat is so much easier and you still get a great result.
When you sew it flat, you get an unsightly lump at the neckline. Things like this make the project look homemade and “crafty.”
Sewing a neckline in the round is not that difficult.
I would prefer that the neckband lie flat against the skin, the way a regular t-shirt does. I don’t think that Spoonflower does ribbing for collar and cuffs, and you would have to be doing serious production work to use a single yard of a matching fabric, so I need another solution.
I have bought some amazing knits from Spoonflower and so far, my best answer is to use purchased cotton neckline ribbing and hand dye it to match the fabric for a t-shirt with typical construction. That takes forever, so if someone has a better idea I am interested.
Definitely a good alternative, thanks for sharing! We hope that everyone will take this idea and run with it, sew it up however makes you most comfortable. We love the idea of dying store-bought ribbing to match custom fabric. A homemade neck band with knit fabric should lay flat though as long as you stretch the neckband slightly while you’re sewing it.
Sorry, meant to add that the T-shirt looks AWESOME and turning a regular T-shirt into Raglan is an inspired idea!!
For those of us old enough to remember Stretch and Sew, we learned that when sewing knits it’s important to stretch the material a bit as you sew. This helps the thread stretch a little with the knit when you are wearing it. It looks better too.
You’re completely right, Karen! Thanks for the tip.
Can you tell us what T Shirt pattern you used?